Corona cheat sheet: Everything you want to know and are not afraid to ask about the 2nd wave


The pandemic has raised many questions. We bring you answers to some of the most asked ones.

What does the percentage of efficacy in a vaccine mean?

A common misunderstanding about COVID-19 vaccines is about the efficacy. 81 percent effectiveness of Covaxin means that 19 percent of vaccinated people are likely to get COVID-19. By 90 per cent efficacy, your chances of getting the virus is only 10 percent. But the actual percentage of vaccinated people in clinical trials who got the virus is dramatically less.
Do you need quarantine after getting vaccinated?

Yes. Though the US government guidelines allow fully vaccinated Americans not to quarantine even after access to an infected person, they advise isolation of at least two weeks after the second shot before exposing oneself to risk. Vaccines are proven to prevent symptomatic illness. But there is no evidence that they prevent asymptomatic illness since people without symptoms can transmit the coronavirus.

Can the coronavirus spread through food or food packaging?

American health officials say that of the more than 100 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, there is no epidemiological evidence of food or food packaging transmitting the virus. 

How will you feel after getting the second dose of the vaccine?

Probably worse. The reason is that the second jab amplifies the effects of the first dose, which has trained your body to recognise the coronavirus as an hostile foreign invader. By then, the first dose has been used by your body to prepare vast numbers of immune cells to take on the virus.

These cells respond to the second dose as if it is a hostile interloper. Many COVID-19 vaccines create antibody levels of 3,000 to 4,000. Hence booster-induced antibody levels are effective against variants. 

Does the absence of side effects mean that the vaccine is not effective?

Pfizer vaccine trials in the US saw that around one of every four COVID-19 patients did not develop side effects. One of five patients did not get side effects after getting their second Moderna dose. The reaction to the vaccine differs from person to person, similar to their response during the infection. A strong vaccine response could mean that their inflammatory response is better since their bodies produced better protective immunity.

Do you need to be vaccinated even after getting COVID-19?

Yes. This is because the vaccine produces a stronger antibody response than the virus. No one knows how long a recovered patient stays protected from reinfection. 

During the current change in season, how can you tell an allergy from coronavirus infection?

Many seasonal flu symptoms are similar to that of mild COVID-19. An itchy, runny nose or itchy, watery eyes could mean that you have seasonal allergies and not the disease. The period of feeling miserable can provide a big clue. If your symptoms are sudden, there is a greater likelihood you have COVID-19.

Can COVID-19 trigger diabetes?

Emerging data hints that it may be possible. One reason could be that the virus directly attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It also infects oxygen-supplying blood vessels. The virus could also be infecting other organs involved with blood sugar regulation like the intestines, and sabotages the body’s ability to break down glucose. 

How does COVID-19 affect heart health?

Though the evidence is unclear, people with existing heart problems appear to have an increased risk of contracting the virus than fresh cases. The drawback to the studies is that only heart scans from infected people were studied. Researchers have taken into consideration factors, such as age, sex, ethnicity, poverty, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and previous heart attack.

Does COVID-19 affect the brain?

Alarming evidence published in The Lancet Psychiatry suggests that one third of COVID-19 survivors have contracted brain disease and other psychiatric disorders. Evaluations of data about 236,379 COVID-19 patients, researchers discovered that 34 per cent were diagnosed with neurological or psychological conditions within six months after infection. Anxiety and mood disorders were most common. A smaller number had brain haemorrhage, stroke or dementia. 

Can you exercise while using a face mask?

Since face masks affect breathing, experts advise people to focus on the length of their exercise routine rather than its intensity. This does not mean you can exercise mask-less. Choose the best mask – N 95 is better since it affords 95 percent protection against fine particles.

Researchers found wearing a cloth face mask while running vigorously on a treadmill decreased duration by 14 percent and caused 29 percent decrease in the maximum amount of oxygen the body uses during exercise. Stepping it up caused shortness of breath and claustrophobia.

Doctors advise it is better to restart your exercise regimen slowly and gradually to acclimatise the body to more intense sessions rather than diving into vigorous activities while wearing a mask. 

Do masks cause CO2 poisoning?

It may be uncomfortable to wear a mask, but it certainly does not cause oxygen deficiency or carbon dioxide (CO2) poisoning. It is likely that the wearer may re-breathe the tiny amounts of CO2 from loosely fitted cloth or surgical masks. However, this will be quickly and easily eliminated by the body’s respiratory and metabolic systems. 

How long should someone who got COVID-19 be careful after being discharged from hospital?

Ten days is the critical window. Recent findings of a peer reviewed study indicate that Covid-19 patients were 40 to 60 percent to be re-hospitalised or die within 10 days after discharge compared to other patients. Nine percent died within two months, and one-fifth were back in hospital.

Can COVID-19 prove fatal after recovery?

Studies show that long term COVID-19 patients have a higher chance of dying, up to six months after infection. 

Does empty middle seats on aircraft reduce the possibility of infection?

A study says it does by 23 to 57 percent. It is by now well known that the virus is transmitted by droplets at less than six feet and by aerosols via airborne transmission during long journeys. 

Over 20 million years of life has been lost worldwide. Is it true?

Yes. On an average, every person who died of COVID-19 lost 16 years of life. The study analysed information about over 1.2 million people in 81 countries who died of the virus in 12 countries as of January 6, 2021. 

(With data from India being scanty or not verifiable, the information published here has been collected from peer reviewed international studies, prominent medical publications and advice of medical professionals)

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